Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Since I Am Blogging From Montana, How Appropriate That I Am Blogging About Montana

The September 29, 2013 Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle has an editorial warning of requests for Montana to supply involuntary commitment records to the national background check system:
Some state mental health information is public record – such as court rulings – and that information can be legally shared with the federal government. But before passing legislation that would free up more information, lawmakers need to consider the situations of those who may have been committed to an institution involuntarily and were later found to be competent. If someone is ruled a danger to themselves by a legal authority but was subsequently rehabilitated, they need a chance to document that and have their gun ownership rights restored.
Read more at: 
This is probably the single biggest problem of the Gun Control Act of 1968's mental incapacity definition: it says that once you have been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital through a due process procedure, you are disabled from gun ownership for live.  It is true that many of the severely mentally ill are never going to be well enough to be trusted with a gun.  But not all, and there may well be circumstances where a person might be involuntarily committed by mistake, or for a very short-term problem.  Unfortunately, federal law, as near as I can tell, has no method for reversing such a prohibition (unlike convicted felons, who at least theoretically can get their rights restored under certain circumstances).


  1. In the absence of a law like that which allows people's rights to be restored, could one not go to a judge and request that, at least in the case of a mistake, that the record be expunged - as if you had legally never been committed, so that requests for that information would not include you?

  2. A judge could expunge the record -- but unless the law provides for that expungement, the NICS still has the record, and is under no obligation to remove it.